BET Wants Buyers To Vote for Them

BET will structure its New York upfront stage show around an election theme. The April 17 presentation, called “Upfront '08—Connection You Can Feel!” will stress the need for politicians to court African American consumers. Network executives will pitch advertisers on the idea that BET is the way to reach those consumers through TV.

The network was down in total viewing (2%) in the first quarter to an average 627,000 total viewers, but it consistently leads all other cable and broadcast networks in its target demo—African Americans 18-34.

“We understand African Americans better than anybody in television—their wants, their needs, their overall desires,” says Louis Carr, president of media sales for BET. “That, in turn, helps advertisers better tailor their marketing and brand messages to this audience.”

Carr will walk media buyers through a research study of 5,000 African American adults from Simmons Market Research Bureau. The research, conducted for BET, says its viewers are 21% more receptive to their ads than those on other cable networks.

BET plans to announce several new shows, including The Boot, a daily afternoon dating show hosted by MC Lyte, of 1990s rap fame. The show lets two members of one sex narrow down a field of five would-be mates to just one. That one then gets to pick which of the two narrowing parties he or she would like to date. The rest get “the boot”—sent off with an actual boot.

Having spawned several ratings hits in prime, the network's programming goal is to create more weekly series and daily strips for other dayparts.